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Who Wrote the Words to “Auld Lang Syne”?

Happy New Year 2017

“Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind…da da da da, hmmm hmmm hmm hmmm, in days of auld lang syne…”

Or something like that. Who knows? Who cares?

Happy New Year!!

Did you ever think that maybe the fact that booze is a big part of New Year’s Eve celebrations, and that seemingly NO ONE knows the words to “Auld Lang Syne,” might be no coincidence? Hmmm?

Seriously, likely no one knows the words because no one ever sings them! (Not in America, anyway.)

Since 1929 when Canadian bandleader Guy Lombardo (and His Royal Canadians) began performing “Auld Lang Syne” on his annual New Year’s Eve Guy Lombardoradio and then TV program, the song has been synonymous in America with ringing in the New Year. (But there’s always more hugging, kissing, toasting and back-slapping than singing at the stroke of midnight. Thus, it’s the MELODY everyone remembers!)

The Royal Canadians’ recording of “Auld Lang Syne” is still played as the first song of the new year at the televised Times Square (New York City) New Year’s Eve Celebration and no NYE party is complete without some version being played or sung. (Literally, “Auld Lang Syne” is Scottish for “old long since.” Figuratively, “days gone by.” Redundant melancholia is the medical term, we think, for the temporary fixation on the past.)

But like so many “anthems” whose roots lie in some ancient traditional song or poem, “Auld Lang Syne” is far older than the big band sounds of Guy Lombardo.

Who Wrote the Words to “Auld Lang Syne”?

Robert Burns“Auld Lang Syne” is credited to the works of Scots poet Robert Burns (1759 – 1796). Burns is associated with the Romantic Movement in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Frequently his is the only name mentioned from Scotland in discussions of music and literature from the period. William Blake, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Shelly and Keats are the big names (all Englishman) from the genre. Romantic poetry was lyrical, even musical, but by all modern definitions, emotional, stressing beauty over form and logic.

Robert Burns was a songwriter — a “lyricist” in his day. He was also a collector of traditional Scottish songs and poems. Often he revised or adapted them and such is the case with “Auld Lang Syne,” which was submitted by Burns to James Johnson for a collection of Scottish songs entitled the Scots Musical Museum.”The Scots Musical Museum was a major publication that had a pivotal role in the collecting and tradition of Music of Scotland. It was by no means the first collection of Scottish folk songs and music, but the six volumes, with 100 songs in each, collected more pieces, introduced new songs, and brought many of them into the classical music repertoire.

“The project started with James Johnson, a struggling music engraver / music seller, with a love of old Scots songs and a determination to preserve them. In the winter of 1786 he met Robert Burns who was visiting Edinburgh for the first time, and found that Burns shared this interest and would become an enthusiastic contributor. The first volume was published in 1787 and included three songs by Burns. He contributed 40 songs to volume 2, and would end up responsible for about a third of the 600 songs in the whole collection as well as making a considerable editorial contribution. The final volume was published in 1803.

“As well as collecting old songs, Burns wrote new words to old tunes, and many of the songs now attributed to Burns have older roots. Songs in the collection include ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ ‘Lord Ronald, my Son’ (better known as ‘Lord Randal’) and ‘My love is like a Red, Red Rose.’

“The collection became popular internationally, and songs and tunes were arranged by composers such as Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven…” —Wikipedia

Auld Lang Syne Lyrics (original Burns’ lyrics)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne

CHORUS

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gies a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

Auld Lang Syne Lyrics (contemporary)

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and days of long ago?

CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for days of long ago.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for days of long ago.

CHORUS

We two have run about the hills,
and pulled the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since days of long ago.

CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine (dinner time);
But seas between us broad have roared
since days of long ago.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for days of long ago.

CHORUS

You can hear a midi version of “Auld Lang Syne” hereSIDEBAR: Famously, “Auld Lang Syne” is sung in perhaps the most beloved holiday movie ever made, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, released in 1946.

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